Monday, February 9, 2015

The Ruth Quilt - The Jean Quilt

47" wide x 40" high

In 2013 our Minnesota quilt study group had chosen 'Words or Letters on Quilts' as the topic of one of our quarterly meetings. We  wanted to focus on examples where they are a primary design element as opposed to such things as signature and friendship quilts which we had studied previously.
It was also our chosen 'challenge' that year. Anyone interested in trying techniques or styles we've studied does so and then shares their piece and what they learned through the process at the last meeting of the year.
I like doing the challenges and had been thinking about a few options for my project when this quilt was shown during Show and Tell at the AQSG seminar that fall in New Jersey.

47" wide by 40" high

This close up reveals interesting construction.The white squares and rectangles are hand appliqued to the red background, not pieced! It is knotted/tied with multi-strand cotton thread. The front is brought to the back and hand hemmed

I knew right away that I was going to make my own version for my study piece. When inspired by a vintage quilt I usually personalize it by making a few changes rather than 'copy' it. In this case, of course, I used my own name and as I usually do, I scaled down the size. I chose to do it in blue and cream. I contacted the owner and she generously measured all the dimensions and gave me permission to make and share my version.**

I worked on graph paper following old embroidery cross-stitch charts. I'm guessing that form of needlework was the inspiration for the early quilts with pieced letters.

For practice I made two pot holders for my friend, Gail Bakkom.

vintage example

Even though my name also has four letters, the cross-
stitch "N" takes up more space than the others. I tried various ways to narrow it and but it just didn't work.

Studying old quilts with the pieced alphabet I saw the wide N's W's and M's and decided just to do it that way.

So here's my project....a bit late, yes. But it's done!

21" wide by 19" high

 squares measure 1/2"

Here's a current pattern based on a vintage quilt with pieced alphabet border called  A-is-for-Apple available at the National Quilt Museum shop

Quilts with words and/or letters can be a fascinating topic of study. Some are cross-stitch style lettering as are mine and RUTH's. Many are appliqued.
 Here are a few more:

Bible Verses

Is this MOM? Or turn it upside-down...

Made by Gail Bakkom for our challenge

**Thanks to Carolyn Maruggi for permission to share RUTH quilt photos

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Bias Trim Quilt":Chain or Fan Layout

Like so many quilt designs, this one has more than one name and numerous variations. I bought the top several years ago, loving the graphics and the fact that commercial bias tape was put to such a unique use.
It's in great condition, the workmanship is precise; it deserves to be finished. I planned to hand quilt it. That was the plan but, as with some of my other grandiose plans, it has languished on a shelf with lots of other tops, some also deserving, yet also unfinished.

Recently my interest in it was revived due to social media, really, and the generosity of Sharon Pinka, a fellow quilt lover. I had posted the photo on a FaceBook's Quilts Vintage and Antique where Sharon saw it and remembered that she had a pattern for it. She gave me the pattern when we met in Arizona recently, expressing how gratifying it is to find a good place for some of the things we all gather and store.

The February 1934 issue of McCall's magazine advertised their transfer printed patterns suggesting the 1930's as the approximate time period for this pattern.

The pattern includes two designs and sold for $.30. The package is smaller than later patterns; 5.25" x 6.5".

Referred to on the pattern tissue as Bias Trim Quilt you may prefer to assemble the blocks either in the 'fan' design as on the left (more Colonial they say) or the 'chain' (for the more "modern type of room".) Mine is set in a chain.
 You can see that my variation does not use a colored wedge in each corner and employs four colors of tape instead of three. The border on mine uses a LOT more bias tape and adds an extra touch not suggested in this pattern.

I enjoy reading directions and suggestions on old patterns. You are to sew the seams with a 3/16th seam. I've often seen old tops with skimpy seams. I've never seen it in printed directions.
"Three shades of bias trim...peach, lavender and rose" are suggested in tape  "1/2" wide as it comes on the card".
Directions for applying the binding suggest you trace the curved pencil lines on each 9" block as per pattern and stitch one edge of the binding along the inner curve using "Sheer Fabric Colored Cotton"; presumably a thread. The outer edge of the binding should then be "sewn to position flat."
Mine is machine topstitched neatly along the very edge. I suppose it could be hand appliqued but by the 30's I'm betting most people were happy to use their machine for such work.

For finishing, the term 'interlining' is used. I see no reference to batting. What do you think? It says, "Use double sheet cotton. This is sometimes sold in folded sheets. Leaving the sheet double, catch-stitch the sheets together to the required size and baste to the underside of quilt top."
After thus interlining the quilt you are to "join the seams of the lining (what we call backing) and baste to the back of the quilt."
This appears to me to be a top with three layers of woven cloth basted to it; a double layer of interlining and a lining. Is this how you interpret it?

Finding vintage patterns and studying them closely can yield helpful tips for those of us who love to study old quilts and ponder the sometimes puzzling construction.

When I did a quick search under 'fan' or 'chain' on the the Quilt Index and  the International Quilt Study Center none like this showed up but I have seen a few others in books and posted on-line.
Do you have one? Have you seen one?

Cardboard templates for the Double Wedding Ring design were also in the pattern envelope

Another example of using commercial tape for household items.
 A dish towel....I didn't think I had a photo of it but came across it recently.

I welcome your comments

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Quilting Reflections on 2014

Evelyn Nall
Today as a new year starts, and as I look back on 2014, I realize that I accomplished a couple of 'different' and very exciting things from my usual quilt activities.

One was to transcribe the interview I did with the amazing Evelyn Nall for the Quilter's Save Our Stories program; getting her interview on-line and into the Library of Congress.

The other was the quilt donation project which reached a total of 70 quilts for the use and comfort of the residents of the Gift of Life transplant house. It made up the largest percentage of my 2014 quilting life.  Along with the six quilts I made and donated, I coordinated the project which I began in April.  KARE 11 TV ended up covering the story as did the Rochester, MN newspaper! You can read my previous two blogs to learn more about that or check out the links on the right hand column of this blog under "Quilts Project Links".

I made backs for the donated tops, made and applied binding to 14 quilts, sought out machine quilters to volunteer their skills, took photos and kept donor data for all of this and delivered the quilts on December 1, 2014. The whole experience was a highlight of my quilting life which amounts to nearly 40 years!

                                 Donated Bed-size quilts that I made 

 I also completed 5 doll quilts; 4 of them are part of my 'Bricks' project.

Gift for Sophie

And added a few things to my collection:
 a Hmong textile, one bed quilt and two cribs. 
The Sunbonnet Sue was a gift from a friend.


I also finished....drum roll please, a pair of wool socks which I started two years ago. Yes. One pair of socks. But. . . I knit a total of three because after I finally finished the first one it was too large. So I made one in the smaller size and then ripped out the first one and made it over. I sometimes wonder about myself, as do my friends! But I am happy with them and Minnesota currently being in single digits or below zero for a few days I am enjoying the comfort of the wool.  (Merino wool, hand dyed, size 2 needles from the toe up if you are a knitter)

Along with this were two quilt-related trips; one to Denver to visit Dawn Collector with a Needle and one to Milwaukee for the AQSG seminar.

Happy New Year to all of you!

 Do you have plans for your quilting life in 2015?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Quilt Project Wrap Up!

The total number of quilts donated to the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Minnesota, came to 69....far surpassing my goal of 30 in honor of their 30 years of service to transplant patients! This was a result of the generosity of quilting and non-quilting friends and even strangers from a total of 8 states all across the country.

In the very last few weeks before our trip to Rochester for my husbands two year check up AND the quilt delivery, a neighbor and quilter who shared my enthusiasm for the project from the beginning, and who quilted some of the quilts on her long-arm machine, decided to tell KARE 11 television here in the Twin Cities about this project! They were interested in covering it and the whirlwind finale and publicity of the project was a really unexpected and wonderful experience!

It resulted in this  'Extra' feature aired on the 10 p.m. news on December 2. Take a look.

Reporter, Lindsey Seavert did a superb job covering all aspects of the project with excellent video footage by  photographer Deb Lyngdal.

What a talented duo! In just over 3 minutes, they told the story better than I ever could! (literally editing 4+ hours of videotaping overnight !)

The Rochester newspaper also covered it a few days later. A link to that article can be found HERE.

I sewed a label to each quilt; personalizing the donor/maker information. I think the residents will get comfort from these quilts knowing that someone who doesn't even know them cares about them during a stressful time away from home.

A slideshow of all the quilts can be found on Flickr.

As I finished up that last quilt, sewing on the binding and applying the label, Deb was filming. When I finished she asked, "How does that feel?". My first response was, '"Happy". The project had become more than I'd ever imagined. Her question made me realize that making the quilts and collecting quilts and quilt tops, making backings and bindings, doing the labels and photography, meeting new people and seeing their eagerness to participate, all of it made me realize that it had become a real highlight of my 30+ years of quilting!  So I was happy but also sad in a way to see it come to an end. The delivery of the quilts was a joyful conclusion that will always be a great memory.
Updated Resident Room!

I have taken great pleasure in all things quilt related for years and years ....making and giving and collecting quilts, doing appraisals, lectures, trunk shows, studying vintage quilts...all of it has been great but this project was something different.
Perhaps along the way, while busy sewing and finishing it all up, I forgot about the gift that started it all. The selfless gift to my husband of a kidney from a long time friend - a true Gift of Life.

Organ Donation Saves Lives!